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Brad Mosher/The Observer Powder Valley’s Jessica Pedro had 11 kills and six digs in the Badgers’ sweep of Cove Saturday. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
COVE — The Powder Valley volleyball team made it a perfect 10-0 run through the Old Oregon League Saturday after sweeping Cove (25-15, 25-11, 25-16) in the final league game.
The victory gave the second-ranked Lady Badgers their 15th straight win in an 18-2 season.
Cove, ranked 22nd in the latest Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) 1A volleyball poll, ended the league season in third place with a 6-4 mark in OOL play.
Senior Ali Abrego had a “good night” serving, according to the Powder Valley coach. Abrego finished with 21 serves. She also had 13 digs.
According to Lasa Baxter, the Badgers expected the Cove team to be one of the toughest teams at the net they’d face all year. The Leopards were able to challenge Powder Valley at the net, but the Badgers used their depth and serving skills to neutralize that strength, Baxter said.
“We were able to serve them out,” the coach said. She also credited the rest of her team will strong play at the net for controlling the Leopards.
On the other side of the net, youth and inexperience were not an excuse, but just an accurate description of the fatal flaw in Cove’s hope for a home upset of one of the best 1A teams in the state.
“It was just communication and unforced errors. We’ll have that when you have a young team,” said Cove coach Darcy Carreira. “When our two seniors are out at the same time, our youth and inexperience come up. We have had just too many unforced errors. We need to talk, stay focused and have fun,” she added.
But even the inexperience may be a short-term problem for the Leopards, as the young team keeps getting experience on the court against some of the best 1A volleyball programs in the state, Carreira said.
Imbler finished in second place (8-2), while Wallowa was fourth (4-6). Pine Eagle finished the league season with a 2-8 margin, both wins coming at the expense of winless Joseph (0-10).
Powder Valley has only lost two sets this season in league play — both to Imbler. The Badgers are 51-9 in sets for the season.
“We always have room for improvement,” Baxter said after her team iced its undefeated season in Cove. “I’d hate to see a team peak before your finished.”
Powder Valley swept Wallowa Friday with a quick 25-9, 25-9, 25-12 decision in their final home league game of the year.
Abrego led the Badgers with 29 serves and 11 kills, while Jessica Pedro had six digs and 11 kills. McKinsey Hampton had three blocks and 13 serves.
“Wallowa played a very sound game,” Baxter said Friday. But, that wasn’t enough to keep the Badgers from picking up their ninth league win in a row.
Now, that leaves the Badgers focusing on surviving the Old Oregon League tournament Saturday at La Grande High School.
The top three teams from the tournament will earn berths in the state playoffs. At stake for the second and third-place teams will be a home playoff game.
The tournament winner will get a bye and host a second-round game, while the second place team will host the third-place team from the Big Sky in the first round. The OOL third place team will travel to meet the second place team from the High Desert League in the first round of playoffs.